Bar considers providing free basic online research service

first_img February 15, 2005 Regular News Bar considers providing free basic online research service The Bar Board of Governors has approved in concept negotiating a contract with legal research firm FastCase to provide free basic online legal research services to all Florida Bar members.The board accepted the recommendation of the Member Benefits Committee to pursue detailed negotiations with FastCase, after hearing last month from committee chair and board member Frank Walker. Budget Committee Chair Jerald Beer also reported that money for the project had been included in the Bar’s budget and the proposal appeared to fall within the allocated amount.“I think it’s a great thing that we’re going to do,” Bar President Kelly Overstreet Johnson told the board.Walker said the committee sent out requests for proposals to seven companies, and six replied, offering various services and prices. While FastCase didn’t offer the most services, it did offer the best combination of costs and services, he said.The service will offer Florida case law since 1950, U.S. 11th and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, current Florida Statutes, the Florida Administrative Code, and the Florida Constitution. Walker said Bar members will have the option of buying additional services.Walker said the committee hopes to present a final contract at the board’s April 8 meeting, and if approved there, the service could be up and running by summer. Board member Dude Phelan suggested if that happens that the Bar publicize the service at a booth during the Annual Meeting, including holding regular training sessions.Walker called that an excellent idea and said it could encourage lawyers who are less likely to use online research because they are less comfortable with the technology and have concerns about the cost.Board member Jesse Diner asked if the Bar would be protected in the contract. He noted the board had tried to include free legal research when it attempted to create a Bar Web-portal a couple years ago, a project that failed after technical and contractual issues arose.The contract, Walker replied, has adequate protections for the Bar and allows it to opt out if there are problems. But unlike the earlier effort, he noted that FastCase is already in the legal research business.And while the service may be expanded and more bells and whistles offered in the future, the committee is sticking with a basic program to avoid start-up problems, Walker said. He also said the program will be tested before it is released to the general Bar membership.center_img Bar considers providing free basic online research servicelast_img

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